California Energy Deal Yields $100 Million for EV Charging Stations

SACRAMENTO, California, March 26, 2012 (ENS) – California Governor Jerry Brown Friday announced a $120 million dollar settlement with NRG Energy Inc. that will fund construction of a statewide network of charging stations for zero-emission vehicles.

Included in the deal are at least 200 public fast-charging stations and another 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations across the state, mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego County.

The settlement stems from California’s energy crisis of 2000, a situation in which California had a shortage of electricity caused by market manipulations and illegal shutdowns of pipelines by Texas energy consortiums.

Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power General Manager Ronald Nichols charges a Nissan Leaf. (Photo courtesy LADWP)

The state endured multiple large-scale blackouts, and one of the state’s largest energy companies collapsed. Drought, delays in approval of new power plants, and market manipulation decreased supply, causing an 800 percent increase in wholesale prices from April 2000 to December 2000.

This settlement resolves 10-year-old claims against a subsidiary of Dynegy Inc. for costs of long-term power contracts signed in March 2001. NRG assumed full responsibility for resolving this matter in 2006 when NRG acquired Dynegy’s 50 percent interest in the assets.

One hundred million dollars from the settlement will fund the fast-charging stations and the installation of the plug-in units and electrical upgrades, at no cost to taxpayers.

The remaining $20 million will be directed to ratepayer relief.

“The settlement will launch a virtuous circle in which ever more Californians will feel comfortable driving EVs, and growing EV sales will in turn attract ever more investment in charging infrastructure to our state,” said California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey. “It will create jobs in California, help clean our air, and support attainment of our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

This new EV charging network is a breakthrough in encouraging consumer adoption of electric vehicles and California clean air officials hope it will contribute to achieving California’s clean car goals.

CPUC Commissioner Mike Florio said, “This is a truly creative deal that offers tremendous value for California utility customers. In one stroke it closes out an unfortunate chapter in our history and propels us down the road to a clean transportation future. Through the settlement, EVs will become a viable transportation option for many Californians who do not have the option to have a charging station at their residence.”

In January, the Air Resources Board voted to require the largest automakers to derive 15 percent, or about 1.4 million, of their annual California sales from electric vehicles and other zero or near-zero emissions vehicles by 2025.

Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board, applauded the settlement agreement. “California has the most aggressive clean transportation goals in the nation,” said Nichols. “The automakers are already building clean electric cars. This infrastructure infusion will give consumers the confidence to go out and buy them, which is what needs to happen for us to clean our air, lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our dependence on imported oil.”

Governor Brown also issued an Executive Order Friday that sets the following targets:

  • By 2015, all major cities in California will have adequate infrastructure and be “zero-emission vehicle ready”
  • By 2020, the state will have established adequate infrastructure to support 1 million zero-emission vehicles in California
  • By 2025, there will be 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California
  • By 2050, virtually all personal transportation in the state will be based on zero-emission vehicles. By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector will be reduced by 80 percent below 1990 levels, a goal set in an Executive Order signed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“This executive order strengthens California’s position as a national leader in zero-emission vehicles,” said Governor Brown, “and the settlement will dramatically expand California’s electric vehicle infrastructure, helping to clean our air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

AB 32, the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, calls for a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Last year, Governor Brown signed into law a measure directing the California Air Resources Board to adopt regulations setting a 33 percent renewable energy target.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Director Paul Alivisatos praised the settlement. “One of the challenges with current electric vehicles is ‘range anxiety,'” he said. “Deploying an extensive recharging infrastructure is an important step if electric vehicles are to be adopted more widely.”

Berkeley Lab runs the Batteries for Advanced Transportation Technologies program, a fundamental research program for developing high-performance, rechargeable batteries for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Vehicle Technologies.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.